August 1 - Ephesians 1:1-2

Thursday, August 1, 2013

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Ephesians lived in a period of time not unlike ours.  There was a great deal of pessimism and in 2:12 we find that humanity had no hope.  Crime was running rampant and there was a call to follow the laws more closely and establish rules for everything that happened.

Paul wrote this letter around the same time as he wrote the letters to the Colossians, the Philippians and to Philemon.  They were written while he was imprisoned in Rome, probably around 61 AD.  He was living in hired house (Acts 28:30) and we see in Philippians 1:19-26 and Philemon 22 that he was hoping for release to happen soon.  This letter was more than likely a circular letter, which means that it was read to a number of churches in the region, but its destination was the church in Ephesus.

Paul founded the church on his second missionary journey, staying there long enough to leave Priscilla and Aquila on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 18:18-21).  You can read about his time there during his third missionary journey in Acts 19:1-20:1 and in Acts 20:31.  He had been very close to the believers in that church (Acts 20:17-38), staying for nearly three years and his purpose for this letter was to remind the Church that it is the body and Christ is the head of that body.

Ephesus was a leading center within the Roman Empire.  It was quite strategic, being close to the main east/west highway and surrounded by more than 230 communities. With a church in Ephesus, Christianity could spread throughout the region with little effort.

The letter can be seen in two parts.  In Chapters 1-3, Paul tells us what we are in Jesus and in Chapters 4-6, he tells what we are to do because we are in Jesus Christ.

When we read the letter to the church in Ephesus, we find Paul’s grand understanding of God’s plan for the church. God sent Christ to unify his people and his purpose for the world would be found through the work of the Church.